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SA needs faster progress - Manuel

Aug 15 2012 14:48 sapa

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Cape Town - Without faster progress, there is a real chance South Africa could slide backwards, National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said on Wednesday.

"For these reasons, we must accelerate the pace of change, work harder and better to move towards the vision we all aspire to," he told a joint sitting of Parliament's two Houses convened to hand over the revised national development plan (NDP) to President Jacob Zuma.

"It is possible. We are capable as a nation of achieving these bold and ambitious, but realistic objectives (in the NDP).

"When we unite and work together, we can achieve miracles. Our history is testament to this."

The plan to eliminate poverty and inequality rested on six pillars. The first was to unite all South Africans around a common programme to fight poverty and inequality and foster a spirit of unity.

"But this will remain a hollow call unless we can improve the lives of young black people."

The second pillar was active citizenry.

Working individually and collectively with others in the community, citizens had a critical role to play in their own development and in the country's development.

The third pillar was a growing and inclusive economy, needed to deliver on the objectives set.

"We need to create more jobs, and make progress in broadening ownership of the economy. Our economy is caught in a low growth trap. To reverse this, we require higher investment, better skills, rising savings and greater levels of competitiveness.

"We do not suffer a poverty of ideas; our weakness is in implementation. The commission identified critical factors that contribute to this flaw and makes several proposals to deal with it," Manuel said.

The fourth pillar of the plan addressed the urgent need to build capabilities. Capabilities applied to both people and the state.

The fifth pillar was a capable and developmental state.

"We define a developmental state as one that is capable of intervening to correct historical inequalities and to create opportunities for more people.

"A capable state needs to be professional, competent and responsive to the needs of all citizens. We seek a professional civil service which can weather changes in political administrations."

The sixth pillar was the responsibilities of leadership throughout society to work together to solve the problems.

"South Africa's progress in navigating the transition from apartheid to democracy was built on the ability of leaders to put aside narrow sectarian interests in favour of national interest, leaders who were able to put aside short-term political agendas for long-term benefit.

"To achieve the South Africa that we all desire, we require leaders to put the country first, to put the future ahead of today."

There were areas where the plan differed from existing plans or policies. It was very much in the nature of planning that there would need to be an alignment of plans, both within and outside of government, to the broad strategic plan being proposed.

"The commission has drawn from our Constitution the perspective that the future we must construct is one where no person lives in poverty and where together we deal decisively to root out the deep inequality that we have inherited. We are convinced that our country can and must eliminate poverty," Manuel said.

By 2030, no one should live in poverty. The so-called Gini co-efficient (to measure income inequality) should be reduced from a very high 0.69 to 0.60 by 2030.

The commission was making a case for what needed to be done by all, regardless of political persuasion or station in life.

The commission identified enabling milestones to achieve the broad objectives of the plan.

"For example, we would have to create an additional 11 million jobs over the next two decades. Per capita income should rise from about R50 000 per person to about R120 000, but distributed more evenly across the population."

The economy would have to expand to almost three times the present level. The share of income accruing to the bottom 40% of the population should rise from 6% to 10%.

Ninety percent of children in grade six should be able to read, write and count at the appropriate level, and all children should have access to proper nutrition from birth to ensure proper formative development.

"Despite massive progress since 1994, on the present trajectory we will not achieve our target of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality by 2030."

Manuel said it was expected that cabinet, led by the president, would consider this plan, adopt the key recommendations, and set in motion a focused programme to implement it.

"We have an opportunity to construct a future we all want. We must not squander this opportunity," he said.

"The decisions we make today, the actions we take over the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years will determine whether South Africa's future is successful, or whether we are just another hopeful but ineffective state unable to satisfy its people's dreams."


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